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Two Years and Counting: The Bahrain Uprising, in Pictures

Two Years and Counting: The Bahrain Uprising, in Pictures

[Two Bahraini protesters escaping tear gas. Photo by Saeed Saif] [Two Bahraini protesters escaping tear gas. Photo by Saeed Saif]

Over the last two years, the fickle eye of the international media has strayed from the ongoing demonstrations in Bahrain. In February 2011, with the advent of the Arab uprisings, Bahrainis took to the streets to demand constitutional reform, equal rights, and, eventually, the overthrow of the ruling Bahraini monarchy. These protests were not new: Bahrain has a long history of organized activism, and Bahrainis have protested for political reform and more labor rights since the 1930s. While the demonstrators—both Sunni and Shi’a—are advocating for a more equitable and democratic political system, the ruling monarchy has painted the conflict in sectarian terms, blaming Iran for inciting domestic discord. 

The monarchy's response to the uprising has been a violent one: security forces famously demolished the Pearl Roundabout in early 2011, and injured, detained, and killed scores of protesters. In the following months, the regime has continued to detain and torture opposition leaders, human rights activists, and medical professionals who treated injured protesters during the crackdown. The regime-commissioned BICI report, which revealed systemic practices of torture and abuse by Bahraini security forces, has failed to bring about any significant change. Clashes between activists and riot police continue to occur on an almost daily basis. 

The United States (and many of Bahrain’s other allies) has continued to stand by the monarchy, while weakly calling for dialogue. After a brief respite, the US government resumed the sale of arms and military equipment to the Bahraini monarchy last year. 

These photographs represent a select chronological look at the protest movement as the uprising has continued to unfold.

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The photography page aims to provide a space for reflection on photography in its various forms and uses in the Middle East. We showcase the work of photographers active in the region and cultivate critical thinking about photographic practices, representations, and history. The page publishes photo essays, articles, interviews, reviews and more. It also provides information on photographic archives, agencies, and institutions, exhibits, events, and publications.